Vehicle scandal rocks Harare Town House 

Source: Vehicle scandal rocks Harare Town House –Newsday Zimbabwe

Impeccable sources yesterday said 10 officials in Grade Four benefited from the luxury Toyota Fortuner GD-6 sport utility vehicles at a cost of around US$70 000 for the lowest priced.

HARARE City Council (HCC) has been rocked by a vehicle scandal involving over half a million dollars, with beneficiaries reportedly avoiding driving the luxury vehicles to Town House in a bid to conceal the rot, NewsDay has learnt.

Impeccable sources yesterday said 10 officials in Grade Four benefited from the luxury Toyota Fortuner GD-6 sport utility vehicles at a cost of around US$70 000 for the lowest priced.

The vehicle scandal comes at a time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate HCC over  an array of issues, including corporate governance, from 2017 to 2022.

The vehicles were reportedly purchased at a local car dealer.

The officials have been avoiding driving the vehicles to Town House as it raises eyebrows.

Ten years ago, council officials were involved in another vehicle purchase scandal after diverting part of the US$144,4 million loan from China for water and sewerage reticulation to buy 25 luxury cars, which include Land Rovers and Range Rovers.

The scandal was exposed by then mayor Bernard Manyenyeni at a full council meeting in May, where acting town clerk Christopher Zvobgo said he was aware of 13 vehicles — though he first said eight had been bought.

The value of the cars was yet to be established at the time Manyenyeni revealed the impropriety.

Yesterday, acting finance director Godfrey Kusangaya confirmed to NewsDay the purchase of the vehicles.

“This is a human resource issue, but they got the vehicles through loans. They have loans. People say what they want, but you can get our human resources department if you want more details,” Kusangaya said.

Human resources and general purposes committee chairperson, councillor George Mujajati yesterday refused to comment on the matter.

“I don’t know about the matter. Maybe you can look for council officials who can comment on the issue,” he said.

Council head of corporate communications Stanley Gama did not answer calls on his mobile phone yesterday.

However, sources at Town House said some workers in Grade Four were disgruntled after the 10 officials were selectively picked, thereby benefiting a certain “cartel”.

“Council secretly brought 10 vehicles for Grade Four officials. 85% of the total cost is paid by the City of Harare. The beneficiaries will pay only 15% that will be deducted from their monthly salaries,” a source said.

“They are not driving the vehicles to Town House because they fear that the other employees will know about the matter. We have a situation where some officials are parking their vehicles outside Town House.”

Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba urged the government to intervene and stop the rot at the local authority.

“Service delivery at Harare City Council has collapsed, refuse collection is almost non-existent, water supply is in shambles, sewer bursts are not being attended to, but we are seeing extravagant displays by council officials,” Shumba said.

“So we are urging the beneficiaries of these council vehicles to come forward. If they believe that they deserve them, they must drive them to Town House. When they report for duty, they must be seen by fellow council workers.

“Council district officers do not have vehicles yet they are the chief representatives of council at local level and they do not have vehicles to move around in communities and residential areas to monitor infrastructural development that is going on and taking place.

“I have been to district offices and they do not have stationery to talk about. They do not have computers, they are using their own personal money at council to buy stationery so that they can print.

“They have all the money to buy luxury vehicles for senior executives but they abandoned their mandate. We believe the government should intervene in a way that will put a stop to buying luxury things at the expense of service delivery.”

He added that the extravagance came at a time when council employees had gone for two months without reportedly receiving their salaries.

“Week in week out, council committees are hosting workshops outside Harare, particularly in Kadoma and Mutare. How long will councillors and managers continue to be inducted?” Shumba asked rhetorically.

Combined Harare Residents Association director Reuben Akili castigated HCC for wrong priorities.

“We have always said that HCC does not know its major priorities. What is the reason for buying such luxurious vehicles? This is wrong. We are not happy about that at all. We are demanding answers on why these vehicles were bought,” Akili fumed.